November 11, 2012
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it's imperative for California to have more definitive knowledge about the seismic hazards near the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. An additional fault in the area was only recently discovered, and more seismological information is needed about existing faults. Technology has improved tremendously since the nuclear plant began operating in 1985, and license renewal for its two reactors - a process that takes years - shouldn't go forward without this information.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 6, 2012 |
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was scrambling Monday to salvage plans to conduct seismic surveys using sonic blasts off the coast near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant after a state regulatory agency staff report concluded it would disturb more than 7,000 marine mammals. The California Coastal Commission staff, in a report released Friday, recommended that the commission deny PG&E's application for a coastal development permit needed to begin the project. The staff cited "significant and unavoidable impacts to marine resources," including threatened and endangered whales, porpoises and sea otters.
August 23, 2012
Environmental regulation is a complicated business, but the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is, in principle, fairly simple. It aims to protect people who live in states that are downwind of the deadly pollutants emitted by power plants in adjacent states - so if coal smoke from Texas, say, is poisoning the air in Louisiana, the EPA can force Texas to be a better neighbor by cutting emissions. Yet differing court interpretations of the EPA's authority have turned what should be straightforward into a continuing legal nightmare, endangering tens of thousands of American lives in the process.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 18, 2012 |
The last time federal officials assessed cancer rates in the communities surrounding nuclear power plants, they concluded that radiation releases were insignificant and health risks, if any, were too small to measure. TheU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionhas been relying on the results of that 1990 National Cancer Institute study ever since to inform the public about cancer risks posed by the 104 licensed reactors it governs nationwide. Now, in response to growing concerns that using uranium in the production of electrical energy may be dangerous even without accidents, the NRC is trying to decide if it should launch one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted to determine if it is a health risk to live near a nuclear facility - such as the San Onofre plant in north San Diego County.
July 27, 2012 |
Standing in the dispatch office of the North Antelope Rochelle Mine near Gillette, Wyo., Scott Durgin pointed at a flat-panel display. The regional vice president for Peabody Energy smiled. The most productive coal mine in the world was on target. Since midnight, about one train an hour had been loaded, each carrying about 16,000 tons of coal. I asked Durgin how long Peabody could continue mining in the region. Easily for five more decades, he replied. "There's no end to the coal here.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 4, 2012 |
An obscure legal doctrine leaves whistle-blowers at the San Onofre nuclear plant with less legal protection than other California workers, including employees at the state's only other nuclear plant. San Onofre is majority owned and operated by Southern California Edison, a private company, but it sits on land leased from the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. That puts the plant in a so-called federal enclave, where courts have held that many California laws, including labor laws intended to protect whistle-blowers, do not apply.
June 24, 2012
These are dark days at the San Onofre nuclear plant just south of Orange County. Both of its reactors have been shut down for more than four months, when abnormal "thinning" was discovered in the tubes of recently installed steam generators. Neither reactor will come back on line this summer, and after that, it's still unclear whether one or both will be switched on again and if so, at full power or partial - or whether they'll stay shut for the foreseeable future. On Monday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided a troubling assessment of the situation at San Onofre.
June 20, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-backed move Wednesday to scrap EPA regulations on mercury and toxic chemical emissions from coal power plants, not swayed by the contention that the rules are killing jobs, not saving lives. The measure, sponsored by Sen.James M. Inhofe(R-Okla.), failed, 53 to 46. Picking an election-year fight over the wisdom of instituting new environmental regulations in a weak economy, Republicans argued that the rules would force older power plants to close, putting people out of work, and would drive up the cost of electricity.
June 1, 2012 |
Construction costs may go up, but new and remodeled homes and buildings will consume much less conventional power starting in a year and a half when the state's newest energy efficiency standards take effect. The California Energy Commission voted 4 to 0 on Thursday to tighten regulations that govern lighting controls, hot-water pipes, windows, insulation and other systems in new buildings and building additions. The rules, which kick in Jan. 1, 2014, will reduce wasted energy in heating, cooling and lighting 25% over current standards for new homes and about 30% for commercial structures, state experts estimated.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 13, 2012 |
California's energy grid operator announced that two mothballed generators at a natural-gas-powered plant on the Huntington Beach coastline are back in service, a critical piece of the plan to replace power from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant this summer. San Onofre has been shut down for three months because of equipment issues, and it's unclear when it will return to operation. Officials have expressed concern that in the event of a heat wave or transmission outage, parts of Los Angeles County, south Orange County and San Diego County could face power shortages over the summer without the plant's 2,200 megawatts of energy.